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Adjusting to PPR Formats: A Few Key Considerations

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

Most cheat sheets are geared toward standard leagues, as are most strategy articles. This is so even though a substantial percentage - if not a majority - of leagues are employing some kind of point per reception (PPR) scoring system. While many leagues award half a point per reception, some even three-quarters, and some different amounts depending on a player's position, let's for the sake of simplicity address the most common format: one point per reception, i.e, straight PPR, for all players.

Adopting this parameter for your scoring has some obvious and not so obvious implications for player valuation and ultimately draft stategy. Let's run down some of the key ones:

Quarterbacks lose some of their value

Unlike, running backs, receivers and tight ends, quarterbacks obviously don't catch passes, and therefore signal callers will account for less of the total scoring output each week in a PPR league than in a standard one. Quarterbacks are still the same relative to one another, but PPR means that there will be a bigger gap between the elite and the replacement value at the other key positions, and therefore the top RBs, WRs and TEs will be more valuable relative to QBs than in a standard league.

Elite pass-catching RBs vs. Elite WR in PPR

For the most part, a player's value comes from how he stacks up to players at his own position. So while it would seem WRs, who catch the most passes, have the most to gain from a shift to PPR, it's worth comparing them to the elite pass-catching RBs who are the biggest receiving outliers at their position. To illustrate, let's look at the top-five pass catching WRs from last year:

Rank Player Receptions
1. Wes Welker 122
2. Roddy White 100
3. Calvin Johnson 96
4. Percy Harvin 87
5. Victor Cruz 82

If we assume a 12-team, 3-WR league, then WRs 37-48 can be considered "replacement value," i.e., the guy on your bench you can sub in if someone goes down. Laurent Robinson was 37th in receptions last year with 54. After him, there was Austin Collie (54), Jason Avant (52), Lance Moore (52), Santonio Holmes (51), Andre Roberts (51), Doug Baldwin (51), Davone Bess (51), Deion Branch (51), Torrey Smith (50), Jerome Simpson (50) and Titus Young (48). That's an average of about 52 catches. Leaving Welker (who's a major outlier) out of it, the next four guys average about 92 catches. That's 40 more than replacement.

Let's take a look at the top RBs:

Rank Player Receptions
1. Darren Sproles 86
2. Ray Rice 76
3. Chris Johnson 57
4. Mike Tolbert 54
5. Arian Foster 53

If assume as 12-team, 2-RB league, then RBs 25 through 36 can be considered replacement value. Marshawn Lynch was No. 25 in receptions with 28. After him, it was Javon Ringer (28), D.J. Ware (27), Marcel Reese (27), Jahvid Best (27), Ernest Graham (26), Maurice Morris (26), Jason Snelling (26), DeMarco Murray (26), Toby Gerhart (23), Chris Ogbonnaya (23) and Justin Forsett (23). That averages out to about 26. If we toss out Sproles like we did Welker, and take the top-4, they average 60 catches per year. That's 34 more than replacement value.

At first glance it seems to cut slightly in favor of WR, but take a look at the replacement-level WR - most are players you'd actually use in your lineup as No. 3 wideouts. Certainly, Robinson, Smith, Baldwin, Moore, Holmes, Young and Simpson found their way into a lot of lineups. But the RBs - while having Lynch and Murray in the mix - are chock full of fullbacks and backup runners you'd almost never use. For RBs, many pass-catchers are designated for that role and don't have value otherwise. That's almost never the case with WR. So if we talk about "startable" RB, the replacement value for receptions is far lower. Let's keep Best, Murray, Gerhart and Lynch, and find the next eight RBs you'd have actually used. They were Kevin Smith (22), Peyton Hillis (22), Ryan Grant (19), Darren McFadden (19), Rashard Mendenhall (18), Adrian Peterson (18), Michael Turner (17) and Frank Gore (17). When you average those players in, it's much closer to the difference of 40 we found with WR. And really, that's who you're comparing Ray Rice to - Michael Turner, not Ogbonnaya.

Of course, this is just one season of data, but at least in 2011, elite pass-catching RBs benefitted about as much as elite pass catching receivers from a PPR format.

Tight Ends

Because most leagues require only one tight end, and the position is deeper than it's ever been, elite ones benefit slightly less from PPR than their counterparts at RB and WR. Last year Jimmy Graham caught 99 passes and Rob Gronkowski 90. After that were Brandon Pettigrew (83), Tony Gonzalez (80) and Jason Witten (79). Toss out Graham, and that's about 83. But tight ends 13-18 were Jermaine Gresham (56), Jermichael Finley (55), Ed Dickson (54), Owen Daniels (54), Heath Miller (51) and Jared Cook (49). That's about 53, a difference of 30, and most of the replacement level guys were usable.

The outliers - players who benefit the most from PPR

Clearly, there are a few players who benefit far more than any others at their respective positions. Here are the biggest positive movers from standard to PPR leagues from the RotoWire cheat sheets.

1. Wes Welker - goes from the No. 13 WR on our standard cheat sheet to No. 6 on our PPR one.

2. Darren Sproles goes from the No. 26 RB on our standard cheat sheet to No. 12 on our PPR one.

It's a bigger jump than Welker in spots, but the spots are more meaningful at the top.

3. Matt Forte goes from No. 11 to No. 7.

4. Reggie Bush goes from No. 21 to No. 13.

5. Steve Johnson goes from No. 26 to No. 20.

Players who drop the most in PPR

1. Adrian Peterson drops from No. 9 to No. 16

2. Michael Turner drops from No. 14 to No. 22.

3. Jordy Nelson drops from No. 16 to No. 23.

4. DeSean Jackson drops from No. 25 to No. 30.

5. Beanie Wells drops from No. 20 to No. 26.

For more comparisons, check out our standard cheat sheets, our PPR cheat sheets, half-point PPR and customizable cheat sheets.